MAXIME TALBOT

There are two parts to the superstitious activities of Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Maxime Talbot game-day events and the final moment before leaving the dressing room to play a game.

On the first count, Talbots preparations revolve around food. It all begins the night before a game, when he eats the same meal: shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad, Porterhouse steak, and a glass of red wine. The next day at the arena, before the light morning skate, hell eat cereal and bagels with peanut butter. After the skate and shower, he goes to the same Italian restaurant where hell have soup, breadsticks, and spaghetti with meat sauce and chicken. With these foods in his system, he can go home, have a nap, and get back to the arena knowing hes ready to play.

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Hell get to the rink a couple of hours before a game and go through various lesser rituals, but the moments just before the team heads to the ice to play are critical. He and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury have a serious series of motions they must go through. Actually, its more like a quick, friendly sparring session, but as the players line up at the dressing-room door ready for the walk to the ice, Talbot and Fleury give each other a few jabs to get psyched up and ready to rumble, as it were. They did it one night, and Fleury played well, and theyve been doing it ever since, their light boxing now a familiar part of Pens telecasts leading up to the national anthems and opening faceoff.

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